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Cookeville presents challenge
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It’s time to put the funnel cakes down, walk away from the Himalaya and get back to the football field for the Warren County High School football team.
The Pioneers will try to end a seven-game losing streak tonight when they play host to the Cookeville Cavaliers.
Warren County, which is 0-4 this season and 0-1 in District 6-AAA, is hoping to turn the season around by upsetting the perennial powerhouse in District 6-AAA.
Cookeville comes into tonight’s game with a 2-2 record, having a two-game winning streak snapped last week in a 40-35 loss to Beech on homecoming.
The Cavaliers lost last Friday’s game after defeating White County 30-6 and Tullahoma 14-7. Cookeville opened up the season with a 21-7 loss to Brentwood.
Warren County hopes to solve its offensive woes at Nunley Stadium. The Pioneers have played nine straight quarters at home without scoring, including back-to-back shutouts against Shelbyville and Smith County.
The Pioneers will see a similar defense this week as Cookeville employs a five-man front much like the Owls did. Last week, Warren County was bottled up offensively while the defense was gashed for over 500 yards. The Cavaliers bring in an offense led by a talented tailback and a multi-purpose quarterback.
Ross Davidson is coming off a 100-yard performance against Beech last week. The tailback led a comeback attempt nearly resulting in the Cavaliers erasing an early 14-point deficit to pull out a victory.
John David Edgington is Cookeville’s signal caller who is equally adept to run or pass. Edgington is completing over 50 percent of his passes this season and has run for over 100 yards.
A blind-draw kept the Pioneers at home for the second straight year against the Cavaliers. With the schedules resetting after a two-year period, the Pioneers drew its two district home games and Cookeville and White County were on the list.
Last season, Warren County surprised its fans on blackout night with new jerseys against the Cavaliers. Cookeville ruined the debut of the Pioneers’ black jerseys with a 51-24 whipping of Warren County.
Last year’s blowout victory by Cookeville ended a two-year streak of highly competitive games between the two teams. In 2009, Warren County lost 21-16 to Cookeville. The year before, the Pioneers upset the Cavaliers 20-14 in overtime at Nunley Stadium.
If the Pioneers are to pull off another upset, they’ll have to improve in all phases. Starting his fourth game, Hunter Mullican is still in search of his first game completing over 50 percent of his passes. With Mitchell Ashford, Austin Fisk and Lee Carden forming a talented trio of receivers for the Pioneers, Mullican may have more options tonight to spread the field.
Warren County will continue to employ its smash-and-dash combo in the backfield. Cameron Lusk comes into tonight’s game leading the Pioneers with 269 yards rushing while D’Andre League is next with 175 yards. The emergence of League as the Pioneers’ speed back to compliment the strong between the tackles running by Lusk has given the coaching staff optimism Warren County can have a balanced offense going into the second half of the season.
Tonight’s game could serve as a playoff eliminator for the Pioneers. With a loss, Warren County would fall to 0-2 in District 6-AAA. Only the top two teams in the district make the playoffs.
Tonight’s kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Nunley Stadium.